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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 15:24 GMT 16:24 UK
Minister to tackle GM firm over trials
Crop field
Three sites in Wales are earmarked for GM trials
UK Environment Minister Michael Meacher has pledged to take a GM company to task over claims that it did not carry out proper consultation with organic farmers in west Wales over test crops.

Mr Meacher said on Thursday he would be contacting seed producers Aventis on behalf of farmers and other villagers in Mathry, Pembrokeshire.

They claimed they were kept in the dark about proposed trials of genetically modified maize at two sites.

Environment Minister Michael Meacher
Meacher faces two lobby groups on Thursday
Organic farmers and beekeepers, backed by Pembrokeshire MP Jackie Lawrence, took their fight to London on Thursday after being told that the Welsh Assembly had no power to halt the trials.

They called for the meeting to warn him of the damage they claim could be caused to neighbouring organic farms if the planting goes ahead.

After the meeting Ms Lawrence said the minister had been very concerned to hear of the lack of consultation.

A spokesperson for Mr Meacher's department confirmed that he would have expected a company proposing to conduct GM trials to consult with local people at least 10 days before planting was due to take place.

He was due to write to Aventis after Thursday's meeting.

Assembly fight

He said that if it appeared the company had not followed procedure, he would demand they carried out a full consultation exercise with interested parties.

Planting of GM maize expected to start soon at three trial sites in Wales - two in Pembrokeshire, and at one at Sealand in Flintshire, north Wales.

The assembly has fought for six months to try to "go it alone" and prevent the crops from being grown at all in Wales.

Scientific studies carried out on behalf of the assembly failed to give Welsh Agriculture Minister Carwyn Jones the power to ban the GM crops.

Nor can he prevent individual farmers from growing them.

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See also:

04 Apr 01 | Wales
Minister knew of GM crop trials
10 Oct 00 | Wales
Assembly GM debate postponed
26 May 00 | Wales
Farm economy contribution row
18 Oct 00 | Wales
Early test for coalition
28 Aug 00 | Wales
Wales' only GM trial damaged
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